Rafters Hire Two Coaches, Asst. GM

The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters have announced the addition of coaches John Hessel and Josh Tavelli for the inaugural season in 2010. Hessel and Tavelli, who each maintain a strong focus in hitting and fielding, will be brought on as assistants to Field Manager, Scott Laverty. Hessel has been the Director of Baseball Operations for the University of Nevada- Las Vegas (UNLV) since June of 2007. Tavelli will join the Rafters after a season as Assistant Coach at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California.

As the Director of Baseball Operations for UNLV, Hessel has been in charge of organizing a majority of the team’s functions. His exceptional leadership skills have guided him in successfully planning team schedules, travel arrangements, and managing the program’s budget. His experience and organizational skills will be invaluable as Hessel helps the Rafters transition to life in the Northwoods League.

In addition to Hessel’s administrative experience, he has also displayed a great understanding of baseball on the diamond. For the past five years, Hessel has been the head baseball coach at Sierra Vista High School along with teaching in the physical education department. As a teacher Hessel focuses on strength and conditioning, body composition, and player development.

Tavelli is a 2008 graduate of the University of California- Irvine where he excelled on the field for the Lions. Tavelli was able to jump right into coaching upon graduation and spent last season with Vanguard University.

“I am excited to continue my coaching career in the Northwoods League,” said Tavelli. “I have seen lots of friends come through the League and they’ve found success in all aspects of the game. The Rafters will give us a unique experience with the chance to progress as coaches in a competitive league.”

Tavelli will work with the team’s infielders as well as the hitters’ approach at the plate which is his favorite part of the game to coach. 

“I love teaching hitting,” said Tavelli. “Motivating the young players is fun and I love seeing the progress these guys can make with some hard work. It’s great to help make a difference in their careers.”

The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are also announced that Viroqua, WI native, John Fanta, has joined the Rafters front office as the team’s Assistant General Manager.

“I’m extremely excited to assist with the start-up of this franchise and to be a part of the inaugural season,” said Fanta.  “I look forward to working with the passionate fans of Wisconsin Rapids and can’t wait for the season to begin!”

Fanta is a 2009 graduate from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, receiving his bachelor’s degree in Sport Management and Business Administration.  Fanta is familiar with the Northwoods League having spent the previous two summers as an intern with the La Crosse Loggers, working closely with ticket sales and operations.  During college, he was also an intern in the Viterbo University athletics department where he was an assistant to the athletics director in events management.

Fanta graduated from Viroqua High School in 2005 and was a member of the 2004 and 2005 Viroqua American Legion baseball teams that won back-to-back state championships.  He currently resides in Wisconsin Rapids.